Monday, March 23, 2020

World Zionist Congress Election Results: Catastrophe

The World Zionist Congress results are in, and they're ... bad. No way around it -- it's just a catastrophe all around.

I was supporting the Hatikvah slate, which represents progressive groups like Ameinu and J Street and finished fifth last election. This year, Hatikvah made a big push to improve its showing and succeeded in doubling its vote share ... only to come in seventh (with 6% of the vote). Conservative groups rallied to in response to Hatikvah's mobilization, and dramatically improved their showing. Two Orthodox groups, Orthodox Israel Coalition – Mizrachi and Eretz Hakodesh, surged to second and third place (both positioned themselves on the conservative end of the Orthodox spectrum). Less ultimately consequential but more insulting was that the ZOA slate leap-frogged over Hatikvah to finish fourth with 8%.

The plurality winner remained the Reform Jewish slate (which is a progressive bloc as well), but saw a vastly reduced vote share, dropping from 39% to 25%. The centrist Conservative movement slate (MERCAZ) also dipped from 19% to 12%. Basically, the right -- both in terms of religious equality and anti-democratic values -- saw huge gains against brutal losses for the left and center. Whatever the next WZC does, it will almost certainly favor settlements, annexation, the Orthodox monopoly, and the acceleration of Israeli illiberalism.

Other people more plugged in than I can probably explain these results better than I can. If you pressed me, my hypotheses are:
(a) Hativkah's initial success in mobilizing energy and support made it into an effective boogeyman for the right, and this "counterattack" ultimately had greater reach than Hatikvah's pool of progressive support; 
(b) Orthodox communal groups took the election more seriously and have strong GOTV norms in their communities; and 
(c) a growing shift where the American Jews who will self-select into explicitly "Israel" related political activity (at least, activity that isn't solely critical) are primarily the right-wing ones.
Oh, and in Israel itself, the speaker of the Knesset is refusing to allow a vote on his replacement because it looks like the current opposition has a majority. So that's one giant leap toward autocracy.

It's nice to know that, even with the coronavirus disaster bearing down on us, we can still periodically poke our heads up and turn our gaze over to other, totally different catastrophes.

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